Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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RiP Jim Thorburn

James Alexander (Jim) Thorburn, former bookseller at Pocket Bookshops in Sydney, has died, aged 90.

His daughter, Rosemary Thorburn, writes:

‘Jim ran the Pocket Bookshops from 1959 to 1979 with his wife, Hilda. His knowledge of history, philosophy, not to mention politics meant he was able to recommend other titles even if the one requested was not in stock. Many students and scholars became loyal customers and would enjoy their conversations with Jim in the basement at Pitt Street or later in King Street, Sydney. Jim’s Scottish voice could be heard in many an erudite discourse.

‘His stance against censorship meant he continued to sell the banned novel Portnoy’s Complaint and this led to a number of summons, yet the bold Jim personally took a copy along to the relevant state minister and debated the issue on numerous television interviews … and, you know, banning a book is always good for sales!

‘After retiring, he remained active in his reading, especially about Pacific history, and became president of the Sydney U3A, where he also presented a number of lectures, as he also did at his local Historical Society.’

A celebration of Jim’s life by family and friends will be held on Friday 30 January in the Camellia Chapel, Macquarie Park Crematorium, Plassey Road, North Ryde. The service will commence at 12:30pm. In lieu of flowers, his family requests donations to Amnesty International. Please contact Jim’s daughter, Rosemary, for any additional details:


Category: Local news